Myth Busting: Can Yoga Help You Get Pregnant?

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF
 
 
 

As part of National Infertility Awareness Week, RESOLVE has challenged bloggers from around the world to “Bust an Infertility Myth.”  You can read beautiful postings by women who have taken the time to shatter misconceptions such as:

  • Having a child means the infertility journey is behind you
  • Infertility is a “lady problem”
  • Infertility is a punishment
  • Having lots of sex will result in conception

I encourage you to dip into the submissions.

Many women have written about the myth: “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant” — a topic I covered in a previous blog entry.

But what about the assertion that “Yoga will help you get pregnant.” Is that a myth too?

I have seen ads for “infertility yoga” and been interviewed by reporters wanting to learn about how yoga can help women to conceive. (Here’s the latest: Want a baby? Try yoga.”) But the truth is, no one knows for sure.

I would love to be able to point to a scientific research study showing that women who practice yoga are more likely to conceive. But as of yet, such a study does not exist. Until it does, I would never tell a woman that practicing yoga is a “cure” for infertility.

What I can say with some certainty is this:

  • Restorative yoga is a gentle and effortless form of yoga that stimulates the body’s quieting systems. I have found the practice to be an invaluable tool for learning and teaching people how to relax deeply.
  • Restorative yoga can help to lessen the emotional pressures of the infertility process by providing tools for calming negative thoughts and enjoying a greater sense of control.
  • Once you learn how to relax, it becomes easier to do so on a regular basis. (It reminds me of using a map to get somewhere the first few times you go — and then finding your way easily after making repeated trips).
  • Restorative yoga helps to reduce stress, which lowers blood levels of the hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol may interfere with reproductive hormone function.
  • In studies, yoga and meditation have been shown to lower blood pressure, elevate brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA (a brain chemical that is low in people with depression), and create significant improvements in people’s sense of wellbeing.
  • Supported yoga postures gently stretch and relax the muscles and connective tissue, increasing blood flow to the pelvis and reproductive organs.
  • A 2003 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that yoga and meditation are helpful adjuncts to fertility treatments. When women learn how to attain physical relaxation, she feels better about her body and begins to treat it with more respect. This results in healthier lifestyle choices as well as a greater sensitivity to symptoms and body processes.
  • The same study showed that yoga produces clarity of mind, a more positive outlook, and more patience for undergoing the rigors of fertility treatments.
  • Restorative Yoga is often used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Women who use both treatments report dramatic improvements in mood, stress reduction, and enhanced primary relationships.

I hope that helps to shine a light on the role yoga can play in your fertility journey. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at nengler@comcast.net.

And if you would like to participate in the RESOLVE blog challenge, click Here.

ABOUT NATALIE ENGLER, RYT

Natalie Engler, RYT is a National Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher who offers private yoga and small group classes to women at all stages of the fertility process. Her approach synthesizes ongoing studies in Iyengar-influenced and Vinyasa yoga with immersion in Restorative Yoga, which she learned as part of her 200-hour yoga teacher certification with Bo Forbes, PsyD, creator of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics.

Natalie has been an avid yoga practitioner for 20 years and a yoga teacher for six years. Through a dedicated personal practice and experience teaching individuals and groups, Natalie has witnessed the potent effects of Restorative Yoga on a wide range of issues. She is honored to be able to share this practice with women at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health.

In addition teaching yoga, Natalie is a wellness coach and health writer who has written for Harvard Medical International, Reuters Health, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Harvard Health Publications. She has been quoted in the Boston Globe, Yoga Journal, Parents Magazine, and Conceive Magazine.